President Donald Trump. Picture: Patrick Semansky/AP
President Donald Trump. Picture: Patrick Semansky/AP

The family member who’s turned on Trump

One of Donald Trump's family members has turned on him, and is threatening to publicly embarrass the President months before the US election.

Mary Trump, 55, is Mr Trump's niece; the daughter of his late brother, Fred Jr. She's a certified "professional coach", with a PhD in clinical psychology, and works as the chief executive officer of the Trump Coaching Group.

More significantly, this week The Daily Beast revealed that Ms Trump was writing a tell-all book, detailing "harrowing and salacious" stories about her uncle.

The book, titled Too Much And Never Enough, is set to be published on August 11. That places its release a fortnight before the Republican National Convention, where Mr Trump will be formally renominated for the presidency.

That awkward timing is likely not a coincidence.

The book reportedly includes the explosive revelation that Ms Trump was a key source for The New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the President's taxes, published back in October of 2018.

She helped the newspaper by supplying it with her grandfather Fred Trump Sr's tax returns, along with "other highly confidential family financial documentation".

The investigation found President Trump had used "dubious tax schemes", including "instances of outright fraud", to build upon the fortune he inherited from his parents.

It also made a mockery of Mr Trump's frequent claim that he was self-made, having received almost no financial help from his father. In fact, he had benefited from getting "at least $US413 million" in today's dollars from Fred Sr's real estate empire.

According to The Daily Beast, Ms Trump's book also describes conversations she's had with the President's sister, the retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry. Those conversations include "intimate and damning thoughts" about Mr Trump.

Donald Trump’s niece, Mary Trump. Picture: LinkedIn
Donald Trump’s niece, Mary Trump. Picture: LinkedIn

The book represents an extraordinary public intervention from a woman who has largely stayed silent throughout her uncle's political career.

But it is not entirely surprising. We already knew there was bad blood between the pair. It goes back decades.

Ms Trump's father, Fred Jr, was the eldest son of President Trump's father, Fred Sr - and initially at least, the heir to the family empire. But he did not wish to pursue a career in real estate or business. Instead, he became a pilot.

He died in 1981, at the age of 42, after struggling terribly with alcoholism. His cause of death was a heart attack, sparked by complications related to his addiction.

The President has previously cited his older brother's experience as a key reason why he himself doesn't drink. And in an interview with The Washington Post last year, Mr Trump confessed he regretted scolding Fred Jr over his career choices.

"I do regret having put pressure on him," he said, acknowledging the family business was "just something (Fred Jr) was never going to want" to go into.

"It was just not his thing," Mr Trump continued.

"I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it. That would be the biggest mistake ... there was a sort of double pressure put on him."

Ms Trump's book includes allegations that Mr Trump, along with Fred Sr, "contributed" to her father's death through their treatment of him. She claims the pair "neglected him at critical stages of his addiction".

However, the greater source of her antipathy towards Mr Trump can be traced back to the aftermath of Fred Sr's death in 1999.

Donald Trump’s wedding to Marla Maples. Those are his parents on the left. Picture: Getty Images
Donald Trump’s wedding to Marla Maples. Those are his parents on the left. Picture: Getty Images

The Trump patriarch's will left the vast majority of his estate to his four living children - Donald, Maryanne, Robert and Elizabeth.

Mary Trump and her brother, Fred III, were treated the same way as Fred Sr's other grandchildren, who each got $200,000.

They filed a legal objection, saying they were entitled to a fifth of the estate - the share their late father, Fred Jr, would have received if he were still alive. They claimed Fred Sr had only signed the final version of his will because of "fraud and undue influence" from Donald, Maryanne and Robert.

At the time, Fred III had a young son, William. The child suffered from a rare disorder called infantile spasms, which could lead to seizures, cerebral palsy and autism. He needed an immense amount of medical care.

Mr Trump and his siblings responded to the legal challenge by cutting Fred III off from the family's medical benefits - and by extension, ditching William as well.

"When (Fred) sued us, we said, 'Why should we give him medical coverage?'" the future president told The New York Daily News in 2000.

The paper asked him whether he thought the move could look cold-hearted, "given the young child's medical condition".

"I can't help that," Mr Trump said.

"It's cold when someone sues my father. Had (Fred III) come to see me, things could very possibly have been much different for them."

"I was angry because they sued," Mr Trump explained again, this time to The New York Times, during the 2016 campaign.

Fred III did have the means to continue caring for William, who was quickly diagnosed with cerebral palsy. But Mary Trump in particular was furious.

"My aunt and uncles should be ashamed of themselves. I'm sure they are not," she told The Daily News in 2000.

She has said little about Mr Trump in public since, with the exception of some politically charged tweets posted after his victory over Hillary Clinton four years ago.

Ms Trump called the result "utterly horrifying" and said it had been "one of the worst nights" of her life. The rest of her social media feed makes it obvious that she is a Democrat, though she has not posted on Twitter since 2018.

Hers is not the only troublesome book on the horizon for Mr Trump. His former national security adviser John Bolton is set to release an explosive memoir on June 23, ignoring the White House's objections that it contains classified information.

Mr Bolton's book is being framed as a behind-the-scenes account of the events that led to Mr Trump's impeachment.

"I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn't driven by re-election calculations," Mr Bolton writes, according to his publisher, Simon & Schuster.

In a letter to congressional investigators written at the height of the impeachment saga last November, Mr Bolton said he knew about "many relevant meetings and conversations" which could shed new light on the President's efforts to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation of his political opponent, Joe Biden.

He claimed to have been "personally involved in many of the events, meetings and conversations about which you have already received testimony, as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far".

But Mr Bolton's offer to testify ultimately came too late. During Mr Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, the Republican majority decided not to call him as a witness.

Whatever Mr Bolton planned to say, the details will undoubtedly be revealed in his book.

 

Originally published as The family member who's turned on Trump

President Trump. Picture: Patrick Semansky/AP
President Trump. Picture: Patrick Semansky/AP


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